While some people are attracted to the more solitary parts of a rural working life, many farming women seek out others going through the same experiences, according to Ravensdown shareholder Jo Hay.
“Farming can be a pretty lonely lifestyle. It’s important for women in agriculture to have a supportive group where they can discuss their experiences and bring their ideas to life.”
Jo Hay and husband Ross have operated a family sheep and beef farm in Herbert, 20 minutes south of Oamaru since 2006. Jo was a teacher in Oamaru for 6 years before returning to farm life after the birth of their first child.
That’s when she took part in the Agri-Women’s Development Trust (AWDT) “Understanding Your Farming Business” course.
“On the farm I had picked up responsibility for handling the accounts. But the Farming Business course really increased my knowledge of farm operations.”
Jo says the real discovery was the value of connecting with a group of similarly minded farming women. The experience with the AWDT Farming Business course inspired her to apply for the organisation’s Escalator programme.
“The biggest value is that it connects women across agricultural communities, empowering meaningful positive collaboration.”
Jo was inspired to set up a local North Otago group for women in agriculture. The Lip Gloss and Gumboots group provided a way for farming women to meet, discuss their ideas, promote agricultural events in the region and further their own development.
“Lip Gloss and Gumboots revealed a large drive among agricultural women to further their personal and professional development. Local professionals have been so supportive and since forming, our members have learnt from lawyers, accountants, personal development specialists and coaches.
“Through the Escalator programme I have been able to meet agricultural women from across New Zealand. These ladies are all inspirational, and it was incredible to learn about their professional experiences and the work they have been doing in their communities.
“Graduation was such an amazing experience. Not only did our entire cohort meet up, but previous Escalator Alumni members travelled to see us complete the programme. I feel really supported and privileged for being part of this amazing group.”
Ravensdown is a strategic partner of AWDT and the Escalator programme, and provided Jo with sponsorship as part of a 2020 initiative to create meaningful, women-led change across the primary sector.
Applications for the 2022 AWDT Escalator programme open in July. Check out the AWDT website.